The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regularly conducts investigations of automobile defects to lessen the risk of car accidents caused by safety hazards that could be corrected. NHTSA recalls for everything from sudden acceleration to door latch failures or the potential for vehicle fires can save lives if they are not needlessly delayed.
However, a study by the motor vehicle information system Carfax reveals significant consumer safety threats resulting from online sales of used cars that have been named in recalls but have not been fixed. According to the study, more than 2.7 million used cars were listed for sale in 2011 that had not been brought in for free repairs mandated by an auto recall. California, Texas, and Florida led the list.
In a press release announcing the study, Carfax shared the story of a plumber whose Dodge panel van caught fire due to an electrical problem in the power seat control under the driver seat. The buyer had not obtained a vehicle information report that would have told him that the problem had been identified in the model but never repaired based on the vehicle identification number (VIN).
Consumers have plenty of resources to help them assess used cars for problems, including the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. NHTSA recommends a few basic strategies:
- Before purchasing a used car, obtain a vehicle inspection from a trusted mechanic
- Review a vehicle history report
- Learn everything you can about the model and year, including projected maintenance costs
- If you are buying from a private owner, request maintenance records
A host of problems with vehicle designs or auto parts reliability can cause problems for new drivers of used cars, including the potential for rollovers. Whether or not the problem was subject to a recall, an auto defects lawyer can explain a client’s legal options in the aftermath of a car accident.